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Marriage Fraud - 8 U.S. Code 1325c

Posted by Raoul Severo | Sep 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

For many people, their wedding day is perhaps the most important day of their lives. The idea of being eternally committed to someone you love and desire is truly magical. With that said, marriage is a sacred practice that is held highly among the members of society, most especially in the religious sector. However, that does not mean that it is free from any maliciousness. Many people use marriages as an alibi to commit unethical actions, which are mostly illegal too. But sham marriages are not a thing of today, it is something that has been going on for decades. And in each passing year, more and more people are participating in it. In fact, it has become so popular that every time a foreigner marries a U.S. citizen, people immediately think that it's just another case of a sham marriage. 

As part of the country's effort to discourage people from engaging in marriage frauds, 8 U.S. Code 1325c, also known as The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986, was enacted. If an individual marries another person for reasons that violate the laws of America, then he/she is guilty under this code. 

Now, let's dissect this law piece by piece in order to truly understand it. First, let's address the question “what makes a marriage fraudulent?” We stated earlier that the reasons underlying a couple's decision to wed should not violate the laws of America. But what exactly are these “reasons?” These are:

  • When a U.S. citizen receives monetary compensation from a foreign national in exchange for being their “husband” or “wife”;
  • When a U.S. citizen weds a foreign national to repay a favor;
  • When a foreign national makes the U.S. citizen believe that their marriage is legitimate in order to hide the fact that the foreign national is only in it for the money; and
  • When either a U.S. citizen or a foreign national orders a mail-order-bride or a mail-order-groom.

You might be wondering -- what do immigrants and foreigners have to do with marriage frauds and why are they always included in examples? Well, that is because most (if not all) of marriage fraud cases typically happen between foreign nationals and U.S. citizens for the reasons cited above. Most “aliens” use marriages with U.S. citizens as their key to a faster and easier way to gain a green card. What happens most of the time is that both of them agree to get married by conducting the wedding ceremony, process the necessary documents, and other state requirements. But after all is said and done, the “couple” actually do not fulfill the duties or roles as “husband and wife”. In fact, they live separately and independently. They are only married in papers, but not at heart. Keep in mind that sham marriages do not exclusively happen between U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens. There are cases where an American deceives a fellow American into marriage for personal and selfish reasons, but such a situation is covered in another law. 

Penalties for Marriage Frauds

Engaging in fraudulent marriages is a serious crime that completely undermines the Immigration policies that are meant to secure and protect the country. In fact, anyone who is convicted under this law will be guilty of a felony, the most severe type of criminal conviction. Listed below are the penalties for this crime:

  • Serve a maximum prison sentence of five years;
  • Pay a fine of $250,000 at max; and
  • Deportation of the foreign national.

Additionally, the U.S. citizen or the foreigner may face other charges depending on the facts of the case. If, for instance, the foreign national is also found guilty of faking their visa, they may face additional penalties. 

Legal Assistance for People Accused with Marriage Fraud

There are times friends, family members, or even strangers get nosy with your marriage and accuse you of having a sham marriage with a foreign national. Or, it may even be the law itself who will suspect you of violating the 8 U.S.C. 1325c. If so, please seek legal assistance as soon as possible because you will be subjected to an interview. Without the professional advice from an experienced Law Office, interrogators will grill you until there's nothing left for you to say. Remember that anything you say will be used against you, so it's always better to have expert guidance from lawyers. 

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